Diagnostic point-of-care ultrasound in medical inpatients at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi: an observational study of practice and evaluation of implementation

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2021 Aug 2;115(8):863-869. doi: 10.1093/trstmh/traa137.


Background: In less well-resourced settings, where access to radiology services is limited, point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) can be used to assess patients and guide clinical management. The aim of this study was to describe ultrasound practice in the assessment of medical inpatients at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi, and evaluate uptake and impact of POCUS following the introduction of a training programme at the college of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.

Methods: : A weekly prospective record review of sequential adult medical inpatients who had received an ultrasound examination was conducted.

Results: Of 835 patients screened, 250 patients were included; 267 ultrasound examinations were performed, of which 133 (50%) were POCUS (defined as performed by a clinician at the bedside). The time from request to performance of examination was shorter for POCUS examinations than radiology department ultrasound (RDUS) (median 0 [IQR 0-2, range 0-11] vs 2 [IQR 1-4, range 0-15] d, p=0.002); 104/133 (78.2%) POCUS and 90/133 (67.7%) RDUS examinations were deemed to have an impact on management.

Conclusion: Following the introduction of a training programme in POCUS, half of all ultrasound examinations were delivered as POCUS. POCUS was performed rapidly and impacted on patient management. POCUS may relieve the burden on radiology services in less well-resourced settings.

Keywords: Africa; Malawi; echocardiography; point of care ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Malawi
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography